“I hate people.”
Inner voice: “That sounds too sociopath-y.”
“I hate some people.”
Inner voice: “Better. Can you try it without saying the word hate?”
Inner voice: “Well. Try again.”
In case you haven’t caught up with the science, the new definition of an introvert is someone who derives energy from oneself (as opposed to deriving energy from other people: extro-freaking-verts).
The problem is no one can see this *energy*. To everyone else, you just look like a lonely loser. Worse, they think you need a friend. Introversion continues to get a bad rap because introverts, let’s face it, look like constipated psychopaths.
The idea of avoiding humans is not a derivative of energy as much as an extra-strong preference for solitude.
The inner voice is right. Hate isn’t the right word. I for one love humanity. It’s the individuals that piss me off.
Now that I’ve made it clear how inclined I am to make conversation with you as I sit in a cafe, typing – eating a sugarless cinnamon cake, alone – on my Birthday, yes — I have a confession to make:
The problem isn’t that I am an introvert. It’s that I am a convert. For a large part of my life, I was an extrovert. Every time I saw my brother – book in hand – sitting in the room all by himself, I’d think “what a loser,” as I went back outside to join a ‘new group of friends.
It was a great life – the life of the outside. I don’t know when it all came to an end. Friends drifted apart for various reasons. At the cost of sounding like a condescending prick, outgrowing my friends was the best thing that happened to me.
Before I knew, there I was, all by myself, book in hand, paranoid about the door lock. It was awesome. How had I missed this side of life for two decades? Why didn’t my brother ever tell me how great this would be?
Books, restrooms, and earphones found an entirely new purpose in my life. From plugging my earphones in just to avoid conversation to reading the last part of the Hunger games in the restroom on the ground floor of a Marriott during my best friend’s wedding because – and some people never get this shit – I didn’t want to dance — life was good.
Amidst all this, I realized something and it completely freaked me out: I was using introversion to escape reality.
Introversion was becoming like this really addictive video game. Every time I went out into the real world, the only thing I wanted to do was get back home and be plugged into my devices. Introversion became my greatest escape from anything difficult.
Ironically, the fiction I was reading was about friendships and sacrifices and love and people – in the real world. A truth inside a lie. And here I was trying to escape that very truth, believing I was too cool for reality. Living a lie.
You love me. Real or not real?
– Hunger Games
As blissful as introversion is, it can turn into a comfortable corner to confine yourself, away from reality. A shield against the sun – a mask against mankind – a lie inside a truth.
The truth is not extroversion. Yuck, no.
The truth is reality. Made up of real people and real suffering and real joy and real tears and real sounds — and, incurably: extroverts, who at some point should realize they are not half as interesting as they are loud. And the person that finds you in the cafe because she knows you ordered the wrong cake.
This can all be overwhelming. Because life is overwhelming. There’s so much to explore. There’s no escaping life. Introversion should not turn into an escape from living. From people. From those that care.
Introversion, however lonely, is a journey into strength, beauty, and forgiveness. So you can come out stronger. So you can walk out into the real world, without a mask. So you can risk being seen, hurt and loved. So you can see the worst and still find it difficult to hate.
Introversion is another name for consciousness. That can never be a disease. It never was.
In the dead white hours in Zurich staring into a stranger’s pantry across the upshine of a street-lamp, he used to think that he wanted to be good, he wanted to be kind, he wanted to be brave and wise, but it was all pretty difficult. He wanted to be loved, too, if he could fit it in.
– F. Scott Fitzgerald